Scottish Liberal Democrats vote for greater support to help flood-hit communities

19 May 2024
Willie Rennie MSP

At their spring conference in Hamilton, Scottish Liberal Democrats have today passed a motion which calls on the SNP Government to introduce direct payments to homeowners and businesses affected by flooding and conduct a review of the current disaster relief scheme for local authorities.

The Bellwin Scheme is a discretionary scheme, which exists to give special financial assistance to local authorities who would otherwise be faced with an undue financial burden as a result of providing relief and carrying out immediate work due to large-scale emergencies.

However, despite the scheme being nominally activated by the Scottish Government at least 17 times since 2020/21, it has only actually paid out funding to local authorities for emergency situations three times.

Scottish Liberal Democrats are calling on the SNP Government to:

  • Conduct an immediate audit of the Bellwin Scheme to ensure it is fit for purpose.
  • Ensure the availability of additional grants and other forms of funding, which would be payable directly to homeowners and business owners in weather events beyond those classified as Amber by the Met Office.
  • Create river catchment plans in partnership with landowners and farmers.

Mr Rennie said:

“I have seen first-hand the devastating impact of storms and severe weather on my constituents, and I understand that it can be a long and difficult process to recover from that damage. This is only made worse when the Scottish Government drag their heels on a grant scheme, as we have seen for residents in Cupar.

“With severe weather now becoming an increasing part of our lives, the Scottish Government need to have strategies that will protect communities and build resilience.

“Local authorities cannot be expected to bear the costs alone. As well as reviewing the operation of the Bellwin Scheme, ministers must ensure there is adequate funding in place and work with landowners and farmers to understand what is needed to manage burns and rivers on their land.”

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